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Monday, 14 March 2022

Signs of progress in peace talks as Nato issues warning to Moscow

Ukraine, Russia negotiators signal progress in peace talks: Peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine could be showing signs of progress, with officials from both sides yesterday signaling that the talks could produce an agreement within days.

What the Ukrainians are saying: “I think that we will achieve some results literally in a matter of days,” Ukrainian negotiator and presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said in a video posted online seen by Reuters, adding that Russia is “beginning to talk constructively.”

What the Russians are saying: There has been “significant progress” in the negotiations, according to Russian negotiator Leonid Slutsky, who told RT that he believes the two sides could be in a position to sign onto an agreement in the coming days.

What are they actually talking about? The details of the negotiations are being kept under wraps so it remains unclear where compromises are being made. The Russians have so far been steadfast in their public demands of Ukraine, with senior officials repeatedly telling Kyiv that the war will not stop until it promises to add a neutrality clause to its constitution, recognize Russian sovereignty over Crimea, and allow the breakaway republics in the Donbas to become independent territories. Ukraine, meanwhile, is refusing to cede any of its territory to the Russians but has signaled that it is willing to discuss its future relationship with Nato.

The next round of talks is due to start today via video, Reuters says.

Progress at the negotiating table was dimmed somewhat by more Russia-Nato saber-rattling and claims that Moscow wants Chinese assistance in the conflict: A Russian missile strike on a Ukrainian military base close to the Polish border led to more calls for a no-fly zone and warnings from Washington that attacks on the territories of Nato members will be met with a military response. Ukrainian officials said that 35 people died and more than 130 were injured after Russian forces struck a base used by western governments to train Ukrainian soldiers.

Russia has asked China for military assistance to help it in the conflict, US officials told the Financial Times, without providing evidence or further details. US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan warned that Beijing will “absolutely” face repercussions if it helps Moscow skirt sanctions, according to Reuters. Sullivan is due to meet senior Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi for talks in Rome today.

China denies: "I've never heard of that,” the spokesperson for China's embassy in Washington told Reuters when asked for comment.


Almost 2.7 mn people have now fled Ukraine into neighboring countries, according to the latest tally by UN agencies.

At least 596 people have lost their lives, including 43 children, since the conflict began on 24 February, the UN said (pdf) yesterday, adding that it believes the figure to be “considerably higher.” In addition, 1,067 civilians, including 57 children, have been injured.

More than 140k civilians have been evacuated from conflict areas in the country, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister said yesterday, according to Reuters.

Award-winning American journalist Brent Renaud was shot dead by Russian forces in the town of Irpin outside of Kyiv, as he was traveling to film refugees, the New York Times reported.


A Russian sovereign default is unlikely to trigger a global financial crisis, IMF head Kristalina Georgieva said yesterday, amid expectations that Moscow will be unable to pay its foreign-currency debts due to the unprecedented sanctions on its central bank and financial system. Russia is “definitely not systemically relevant,” Georgieva said when asked about possible contagion during an interview on CBS’s Face the Nation, Bloomberg reports. Sanctions on the Russian central bank has left it without access to most of its reserves, leaving it unable to meet foreign-currency bond repayments. Fitch said last week that it expects an “imminent” default.

But that doesn’t mean we’re being spared a global downturn: Georgieva said last week that she expects the IMF to further downgrade its 2022 global growth outlook due to the commodity price shock and its effects on consumer and business confidence.

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